Over 2 Million People Visited Kentucky Last Year Because Of Whiskey

In the early part of each year the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) and Buffalo Trace, which is not a member of the KDA whiskey trade group, release the numbers related to those who visit Kentucky distilleries. This combined total has been steadily creeping up each year, with 2018 seeing around 1.63 million visits. Now, data for 2019 is out this month, and it indicates just over 2 million in total.

Buffalo Trace, which we covered earlier this month, said they had a record-breaking 293,996 visitors during the 2019 calendar year. This is a 35 percent increase in visitation over the previous year, and marks a strong finish to the decade as a whole, with tourism growth having increased visitation to the National Historic Landmark Distillery by 466 percent since 2010.

The KDA, meanwhile, had a tally of 1,719,821 visits combined between its Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour destinations. Featuring 37 participating distilleries between the two, experiences at these locations have seen a 171% increase in attendance over just the last seven years.

Private bourbon tour

Tasting bourbon on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail (image via Kentucky Distillers’ Association)

It was also noted more than 70% of Trail visitors were from outside Kentucky.

“Kentucky Bourbon continues to take the world by storm,” said KDA President Eric Gregory in a prepared statement. “The culture of tradition and hospitality that surrounds our signature industry enchants more and more people each year. It’s an immersive experience unique to the Commonwealth.”

As a side note, the Trail is celebrating its 21st birthday this year, and distilleries will be hosting a variety of pop-ups, parties, and events to mark the milestone. More specifically, in May each distillery will host a cocktail celebration to kick off the festivities, and a traveling surprise party pop-up will land at each of the 18 destinations throughout the summer months.

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The birthday events will culminate in September — Bourbon Heritage Month in the Commonwealth — with a closing bash at the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center at the Frazier History Museum along historic Whiskey Row in downtown Louisville.